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The Linfield Review

The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

The student news site of Linfield University

The Linfield Review

Men’s hoops end season fourth in NWC

Rachael Palinkas/Photo Editor

 -photo by Rachael Palinkas/Photo Editor

Katie Paysinger

Review staff writer

As the energized crowd gradually vacated Ted Wilson Gymnasium Saturday night after the Linfield men’s basketball game, the walls still vibrated from worn-out whistles and the roar of the student section.

After a stop-and-go game against the Lewis & Clark College Pioneers, the team racked up one last victory, 90-80. They went 11-0 at home this year, a feat which hasn’t been done since the ’77-’78 season.

The Wildcats went into the weekend hoping for a spot in the playoffs.

With a close loss, 98-95, to Pacific Lutheran University on Feb. 22, everything depended on the outcome of games across the state Saturday night.

“We were told going in that if we won and Willamette lost, we would be in,” senior forward Brian Murphy said. “After we won, someone came up and said that Willamette lost. It was an emotional high for us. It was the first time we had done it since the playoff system started.”

Unfortunately, the team was misinformed.

There was a four-way fight to grab the third and final playoff spot in the Northwest Conference between Linfield, Lewis & Clark, PLU and Willamette University.

Each team’s wins and losses against the other three in the tie were analyzed to determine who would advance. Willamette, at 4-2, had the best record and is the team advancing to the playoffs.

Saturday’s last home game was also Senior Night. Murphy and guard Steve Taylor were acknowledged for their years with the program.

Within seconds of the tip-off, junior forward Erik Olson landed a 3-point shot, assisted by freshman center K.C. Wiser.

“We wanted to get off to a fast start,” Olson said. “That was the biggest part of our game plan.”

Linfield never gave back the lead.

The team knew they had many opportunities to snag a slot in the playoffs right from the get-go.

We were in it right to the very last weekend,” head coach Larry Doty said. “I am really proud of those guys. We may have been short of our number one goal, but in the process, we accomplished a lot of other things.”

At halftime, the teams headed for the locker rooms with a comfortable score for the Wildcats of 38-26 resting on the scoreboards.                                              

During the second half, it was hard to tell if the whistles from the referees ever stopped wailing.

Sophomore guard Drew Schroeder was fouled out with 2 minutes 34 seconds left to go of the game. Two Lewis & Clark players were also benched because of fouls.

With 17 team fouls from Linfield and 19 from Lewis & Clark in the second half alone, the game became rougher, and the crowd got louder in support.

The Linfield student section had no trouble coming up with colorful chants to voice their opinions.

“The atmosphere at home games this year was incredible,” Doty said. “The ’Cat Pack and student body were unreal. They were truly the sixth man on this team.”

With more than 1,000 people in attendance at Saturday’s game, Murphy said he could hardly recognize the gymnasium.

“It was the first time since I have been here that the extra stands on the parent’s side have been pulled back,” Murphy said. “You have got to give credit to our fans. It’s like we’re a different team when we play at home.”

Preparing for next season has already begun. This week, the players and coaches met to talk about plans for next year.

“Work hard and have fun,” Murphy advised those returning next season. “Understand that it’s a privilege to play basketball; take advantage of it.”

He is still unsure where his path will take him for next year. He was out on injury last year, so he still has one year of eligibility left. He plans to make his decision about playing in the next couple of weeks.

“We have a good team coming back next year,” Olson said. “It has a lot of experience from this year’s team. We do lose two players, Steve and Murph. We’ll definitely miss them.”

Two Linfield players made the all-NWC men’s basketball team this season. Wiser made second team all-NWC and Steve Taylor made honorable mention. Taylor and Murphy also hold the top two spots in the NWC for free throw accuracy.

Even though the ’Cats didn’t accomplish their season goal, being undefeated at home is no easy task.

“We still came out on top,” Doty said. “But, I’m sad that it’s over.”

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